Procrastination is like a credit card: fun until you get the bill. It’s also the art of keeping up with yesterday.
I wish I could say I came up with those insights. Alas, they’re credited to people much smarter than I am. Who, you ask? I’ll get back to you on that. Tomorrow. Maybe.
Look, I wish I could tell you I have the answer to procrastination, and that there is a surefire way to getting things done, but every time I think I’ve solved the problem, I wake up the next day and have to fight the battle all over again.
But just because I don’t have the answers doesn’t mean I don’t have the answers, am I right? So here are ways to fail at beating procrastination (which I excel at). And if you’re looking at actually being productive, all you’ll need to do is the reverse.
1. Break down your tasks into manageable chunks
You’ve got this. You’ve read Atomic Habits, after all. Baby steps are the way to go. You gotta make that sales call, so let’s break that down:
- Unlock your phone
- Tap the numbers
- Don’t projectile vomit.
Okay, not very useful. Maybe you have underlying problems that you need to address first. Maybe you’re not knowledgeable enough. Or the steps are still too big. Maybe you don’t even like the product you’re selling.
Then you realise it’s been four hours and you’re still procrastinating on this damned call. And now the to-do list looks even more overwhelming. Is there a way to break down the list even further? No? Dammit.
2. Keep a bullet journal
If it helps with ADHD, it’ll probably help with procrastination! The entire internet seems to be behind this magical habit of bujo-ing. Surely, it’ll help you stay on track with your chores, at the very least?
Problem is, the things people track don’t really appeal to you. Who cares about weekly spreads, or a food log, or a mood tracker? You want to get things done!
So you browse for layouts that suit you. Problem is, none of them do, because you’re a unique individual. And like many other unique individuals—who are procrastinating in other areas, no less—you get overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information available on the internet.
Keep a bullet journal? More like staying stationary thanks to stationery. Dammit.
3. Time-block your day
You look up YouTube’s productivity gurus and find this miraculous practice called time-blocking. Apparently, telling yourself you’ll do something in advance is all you need to beat procrastination.
You fire up Google Calendar and figure out how to create an entry. This whole thingamajig might work, provided you remember to stare at you calendar tab all day.
So you crack open your bullet journal instead, and realise you’ll need to draw out your calendar to make this work. But you know better. That’s just another form of procrastination.
There must be a better way to approach this time-blocking thing, but finding out involves putting off the tasks you need to do today. Dammit.
4. Get an accountability partner
You send this message to your friend:
“If I don’t finish writing a blog post by today, I’ll give you $10.”
Your friend replies:
“Who’s this? How did you get my number?”
You made that up. You messaged a random number. Because you don’t have any friends. Dammit.
5. Change your environment
Going outdoors will do you good. Maybe you’ll bring your laptop to a cafe. The coffeeshop ambience is always conducive to writing, is it not?
So you go out and you actually feel a boost in productivity. Everyone can see that you have a word processor open. You must look like a bestselling author to them. Best play the part.
That is until your crime thriller research produces a website that’s dodgy at best. Pics of dead bodies litter your screen. You try closing the windows but your damned laptop is too slow, so you slam it shut and forget about writing.
What’s that Wednesday Addams quote again? That writers and serial killers share the same traits? You probably look like the latter to everybody else in the coffeeshop now. So much for ‘bestselling author’.
What’s the root of the problem?
Fortunately, you’re not fazed by an obstacle or two. You know that failing is just part of getting better, and that someday, you’ll stop working so hard to put off hard work.
Sometimes, these revelations make sense. Other times, not so much. But hey, one more hint means one more step closer to solving the puzzle, right? Here are the conclusions you might make.
Technology: You’re not a Luddite, so of course you’re going to have a mobile phone attached to your hand 24/7. But you learn that the less time you spend getting bombarded with random information, the more clarity you have to tackle the day’s tasks.
Fear of discomfort: At the end of the day, work tends not to be fun. And you’d much rather do fun things for the rest of your life. Problem is, even the fun things have their unfun bits, so you deduce that surfing through the discomfort will serve you so much better than trying to avoid it.
No interest: Maybe it’s not procrastination. Maybe it’s just straight up disinterest. Because when it comes to exercising, you’re pretty consistent, even on the bad days. Sure, things like work don’t come with a guarantee of interest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a day you actually enjoy.
Perfect things only: You’re not a perfectionist. At least that’s what you think. But upon further inspection, you realise that you’re the type of person who waits for all the traffic lights to turn green before you start on your journey. That’s not perfectionism, per se, but it is a pretty uncanny spinoff. So you tell yourself to embrace a red light every once in a while.
Mental clutter: You’ve accumulated a backlog in your mind. So many things in life aren’t in order yet. For instance, you’ve been meaning to service the car, get your blood work done, and repair your leaky roof. But you haven’t and all that procrastination is gnawing at you. That’s the reason why you don’t have the energy for new tasks. So you make it a point to clear the hidden depths of your conscience from time to time.
Don’t stop overcoming procrastination
This is a lifelong journey. You will never truly beat procrastination, no matter how well you crush your day. Because there’s always tomorrow and the challenges it brings.
But at least you’re all fired up now. You’re ready to make today suck a little less, and take on a task you’ve been putting off.
That is until you realise you’ve just spent five minutes reading this post. Five minutes that could’ve been spent actually tackling procrastination.
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